A summary of events on Tuesday, June 8, Day 49 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.
Officials reported that a containment cap over the BP gusher at the bottom of the Gulf was sucking up one-third to three-quarters of the oil — but also noted that its effects could linger for years. And as the oil patches flirt with the coastline, slathering some spots and leaving others alone, residents who depend on tourism and fishing are wondering how to head off the damage or salvage a season that's nearing its peak.
President Barack Obama says his talks with Gulf fishermen and oil spill experts are not an academic exercise. They're "so I know whose ass to kick." One target: Tony Hayward, the embattled chief executive of BP. Obama was asked by Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" about Hayward's comments including "I want my life back," and that "the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest." ''He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements," Obama said. The interview, aired Tuesday, was part of a stepped-up White House effort to show Obama is actively engaged in dealing with the spill. Polls have shown a majority of Americans believe Obama has handled the crisis poorly.
British officials said Tuesday they would double the number of inspections carried out at oil rigs in the North Sea following the Gulf of Mexico spill. Britain's Department of Energy said the average number of annual environmental checks aboard the country's 24-odd drilling rigs would rise from eight to 16, and said it was hiring three extra inspectors to help pursue the more aggressive program. The department did not provide details of the inspections, but said they involved visits to each rig.
For some who are planning vacations in the region but live elsewhere, the spill's fickle nature is causing confusion. Adam Warriner, a customer service agent with California-based CSA Travel protection, said the company is getting a lot of calls from vacationers worried the oil will disrupt their trips — even if they're headed to South Carolina, nowhere near the spill area. That kind of misperception worries residents and officials in areas that aren't being hit hard by the oil — and even those in some that are.
It's hard to imagine a spot with more to lose from the Gulf oil spill than the Magnolia River. Gnarly trees shroud its slow-moving waters, rich with crabs and mullet. Docks have mailboxes; letters are delivered by boat. Seafood boils with friends are a weekend staple. Jamie Hinton, chief of the Magnolia Springs Volunteer Fire Department, said Monday he spent three weeks tangled in red tape before finally getting approval to do something that's never before been needed, much less tried: using a combination of barges and oil-blocking booms to keep crude out of the Magnolia River.